A Reminder to Wear Sunscreen This Summer and Why

During a long, cold winter, we dream of the sun’s warmth on our bare skin. But when it warms enough to feel the sun’s rays, make sure you are not getting too much sun. 

Sunscreen should be worn on exposed skin all year long, but especially in summer when the sunscreen benefits and protections are even more important.

The ABCs of SPF

Looking through the sunscreen aisle is a veritable alphabet soup of skin protection. SPF, UVA, UVB—what does it all mean? And then there are numbers involved. Are you going to the beach or learning algebra? Let’s review some sunscreen facts.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, how long a sunscreen will protect you from sun exposure. UVA and UVB are wavelengths of the sun’s rays. UVB rays are short waves and are the sun exposure that tans or burns your skin. UVA rays are long-wave, also contributing to the tanning and burning of your skin, while penetrating through the epidermis (top layer of skin), dermis (next layer), and the hypodermis (subcutaneous fat below the skin).

The 123s of SPF

The SPF numbers—15, 30, 50—do not indicate how many minutes it will be effective, but rather how many times longer you can tolerate sun exposure before burning. For example, if your unprotected skin will start to redden in 30 minutes, if you use an SPF 15 sunscreen as directed (reapplied as required), you should be able to stay in the sun 450 minutes (15 times longer), about 7 ½ hours, before burning.

You can also consider the percentage of UV rays blocked as the numbers increase:

  • SPF 15 blocks about 93%
  • SPF 30 blocks about 97%
  • SPF 50 blocks about 98%

There is no sunscreen that can block 100% of UV rays.

Choosing Your Sunscreen

The American Academy of Dermatology endorses these 3 simple parameters for an effective sunscreen:

  • SPF 30 or higher
  • Water resistant
  • Broad spectrum

We have already discussed what the SPF number means and what it does. For a sunscreen to be considered “water resistant,” it must withstand 40-80 minutes of water activity or sweating before reapplication is necessary. There is no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen.

For optimal sunscreen benefits, make sure you choose one that is “Broad Spectrum.” This indicates that it will filter both UVB and UVA rays.

Using Your Sunscreen

You can have all the sunscreen benefits in the world, but if you do not use it correctly, you will suffer if you get too much sun.

To get proper and adequate skin protection, you should:

  • Apply it 15-20 minutes before exposure to the sun. Your skin needs time to absorb the sunscreen.
  • Reapply every 2 hours
  • Reapply after water activities or sweating
  • Don’t forget body parts like:
    • Tops of your feet
    • Ears
    • Top of your head, if you have thin, little, or no hair
    • Lips (check lip balm or lipstick for SPF)

Sunscreen Benefits

In addition to allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors more and longer, sunscreen benefits also include:

  • Reducing risk of skin cancer
  • Diminishing aging of skin, like wrinkles, age spots, and freckles
  • Preventing sunburn
  • Moisturizing skin
  • Allowing absorption of Vitamin D while minimizing skin damage

Sun Exposure Facts or Fiction

Many myths exist regarding sun exposure, benefits of sun, benefits of no sun, too much sun, sunscreen benefits, sunscreen facts—it can be dizzying. Let’s take a look at some of the ideas that are circulating.

Fact or Fiction: You need to tan in order to get adequate Vitamin D

Fiction. You need to weigh the benefits of getting Vitamin D from the sun vs the skin damage that can occur. There are also plenty of food sources for Vitamin D, as well as supplements if you are deficient. Always consult a doctor before using supplements.

Fact or Fiction: I work indoors, I do not need sunscreen.

Fiction. You are still getting sun exposure, even if it is just walking from your car to your office. If you sit near a window, or drive a lot, it is particularly important for you to wear sunscreen all the time on bare skin, as UVA rays can penetrate glass.

Fact or Fiction: I have a base tan or dark skin. I do not need sunscreen.

Fiction. A base tan may add a few minutes to your SPF, but regardless of skin color you must wear sunscreen.

Healthy skin, healthy body, healthy mind. All of these things are vital to an abundant life. Whenever you are choosing skin care products, try to stick with all-natural products, like the amazing sea buckthorn therapy skin care products from SIBU.